What is Liver Inflammation (Chronic)?
The liver is the organ that stores the vitamins and minerals of the body, it aids in food digestion and getting rid of waste, and it has the responsibility of fat, carbohydrate, and protein metabolism. This vital organ also detoxifies ammonia, hormones, drugs, and uric acid. Chronic inflammation of the liver is an inflammation that has been consistent for at least several weeks and often more. With liver inflammation for a long period of time, the cells may have died, and with a large amount of healthy liver cells dissipating, there are also a large number of white blood cells present in the organ. This leads to chronic hepatitis of the liver, which means that an infection has been present for quite some time. There is no cure for many types of chronic hepatitis. Any dog breed can get chronic hepatitis; some breeds are predisposed, as in chronic hepatitis caused by excess copper levels being stored in the liver.
Liver inflammation (chronic) in dogs, also known as chronic hepatitis, is due to prolonged inflammation of the liver. The inflammation leading to the chronic hepatitis is caused by a variety of underlying conditions. It is known that middle-aged dogs are more prone and there is also a breed predisposition.
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Symptoms of Liver Inflammation (Chronic) in Dogs
Symptoms of chronic hepatitis will vary depending on the dog and the severity of the inflammation. Symptoms include:
- Appetite loss
- Excessive drinking
- Excessive urination
- Swollen abdomen
- Yellowing of the skin, gums, and ears
- Head pressing and other neurological behavior changes
With the over accumulation of white blood cells in the liver, in addition to dying cells, some dogs that suffer from chronic hepatitis may have high levels of copper storage in the liver.
Causes of Liver Inflammation (Chronic) in Dogs
Breed disposition is known to be a factor in chronic liver inflammation.
- Terriers (Scottish, Skye, Bedlington, West Highland)
- Standard Poodle
- German Shepherd
- Cocker Spaniel
- Doberman Pinscher
- Labrador Retriever
Diagnosis of Liver Inflammation (Chronic) in Dogs
Once the veterinarian has performed a complete physical examination with blood work and listening to a report of the dog’s symptoms, the medical professional will confirm chronic hepatitis with a few more tests. These tests can include radiographs and an ultrasound of the abdomen to look at the liver’s size; livers infected with hepatitis are generally very small and abnormal. The one test that will give the veterinarian a definitive answer is a biopsy. This may be performed by a laparoscopy or by needle aspiration through the skin (with an ultrasound to enable the veterinarian to see). Surgical and laparoscopy biopsies do deliver the best results, however. A biopsy will tell the veterinarian the severity of the disease and will enable the physician to decide on an effective form of treatment.
Treatment of Liver Inflammation (Chronic) in Dogs
Depending on the specific cause of the inflammation, treatment will vary. Treatment may include:
In severe cases of chronic hepatitis, the dog will have to be hospitalized and given intravenous fluids to allow rehydration.
Specific medications may be given, such as anti-inflammatory drugs, immunosuppressive agents, antibiotics, diuretics, and any additional medications for the treatment of the accumulation of copper in dogs.
Recovery of Liver Inflammation (Chronic) in Dogs
There is no cure for chronic hepatitis, but with treatment and supportive care, your dog can survive. It is important to monitor the dog for any new symptoms, behavioral changes, and with your veterinarian. The veterinarian will continue to do blood work on a regular basis to be sure the dog is staying stable. Your pet may be prescribed a special diet by the veterinarian, and it is important to follow the instructions for any other after-care given to you by the physician.